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Hub plans ‘kept in the dark’

Plans are afoot to develop a flagship multi million pound ‘health hub’ in Newry converging a number of key health services. The Department of Health strategic group is leading a proposal to merge Newry’s Health Village and the Southern Trust’s social care facilities at John Mitchel Place onto a single site. It is understood negotiations have already taken place to purchase a city centre location and the GP lead Community Treatment and care centre (CTCC) could be fast-tracked as soon as 2014. The department was tight-lipped about details saying plans were at an “early stage” but a Southern Health Trust document seen by the Reporter reveals the trust recognises the need for a new CTCC. It states the CTCC would “support a shift in services from Daisy Hill Hospital into the community.” However Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley has voiced concerns any relocation of services from Daisy Hill will impact on the hospital’s future. The trust document places an importance on the CTCC given that John Mitchel Place is “not fit for purpose” and the trust accommodation in Newry is “dispersed with many buildings having structural and environmental damage.” If the CTCC gets the go ahead it will encompass services which do not require a hospital bed. It will generally support GP consulting, minor surgery/ procedure rooms, X-ray, out of hours services, integrated care teams for older people and primary care and children and young people. Community dentistry, mental health services, specialist diabetes, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure would also be offered. The centre would be led by GPs and initial discussions are being taken forward to canvass Newry GPs interest in relocating to the CTCC. There are seven GP practices currently located in their own accommodation at Newry Health Village, one GP practice is located at Monaghan Street and one in Forkhill. Should these GPs move to the CTCC they would have to be bought out. The report says of the centre: “It would support a shift in services from Daisy Hill Hospital into the community, free-up leases at ITEC and Mary Street and free-up Bessbrook Health Centre for disposal. A number of potential sites have been identified through trust engagement with Newry and Mourne District Council as part of its Newry City Plan.” The Department of Health would not be drawn on details of the centre. A spokesman said: “The trust and local commissioning group are still at the early stages of planning for this new health  and care centre to meet the needs of the local population. A strategic outline case the first stage in the development of  a business case has been completed and is currently being appraised. The next step will be to develop an outline business case which will look at the needs in more detail and which will examine costs, options for the locations and content of the building in more detail. It will also look at options for procurement including public and private capital funding approaches Until this business case has been developed and approved which is expected later on in the year it is not possible to give a time scale of delivery or further detail on what may be included.” Dominic Bradley Newry and Armagh MLA said he was surprised the public and elected representatives had been “kept in the dark” about the centre. ” I have become aware that council officials have been working with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to identify a site in Newry to build a new CTCC which would replace the Newry Health Village and social and care facilities at Dromalane and John Mitchel Place. I am lead to believe the site has been identified and is in the process of being purchased by a private company, which will develop the project on behalf of the department. Apparently the provision of the CTCC is the response to the requirements of the Compton Report, ‘Transforming Your Care’ which was published only last December. “What surprises me about this project is the fact that the public and their representatives have been kept in the dark and that of course leads one to wonder if there is an attempt to advance it under the radar – for whatever reason. My fear is that services will be removed from Daisy Hill and the new centre may impact upon the hospital. “I have raised my concerns with the chief executive of the trust in an effort to gain more details about what exactly it entails. I seams that the trust is not the lead agency in this initiative and that it is being advanced by the Department of Health’s strategic group established to look at the development of CTCCs in NI. “The Department of Health is describing this project as ‘a flagship project’ which will be fast tracked through to completion in 2014. Before welcoming the project I would want to see much more detail and would be completely certain that it in no way puts the future of our hospital at risk. I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Department on Health to discuss the detail of this project.


Nwery Reporter

16th May 2012